Vlady In Baltimore? It Could Work

Typically, I am not one to preach the use of stopgap players to make a bad team slightly better. It’s a waste of money and almost always doesn’t work.

But for the 2011 Baltimore Orioles stopgap players are the way to go.

Considering this offseason’s free agent market is so thin, that’s almost the only option. That, or unloading the farm system for a big-name player, something we all know isn’t likely to happen.

Therefore, the Orioles will need to get creative, assuming Paul Konerko doesn’t want to sign here without being overpaid, which is practically a given.

There are ways to make a more competitive Baltimore Orioles team for 2011 without landing Konerko and Cliff Lee. And that’s what the 2011 season should be about: Making a more competitive team so that the free agents of next year’s class will be more apt to come to Baltimore, or at least hold the position until a prospect is ready to take it over.

Let’s take a look at some ideas:

Vladimir Guerrero

The slugger is coming off a great comeback year in which he hit .300 with 29 homers and 115 RBI’s. Stick that stat line in the 2010 Orioles and they would lead in all three categories. Vlad is getting up there in age for a ballplayer (will be 36 before the start of the 2011 season), but the guy can hit.

He’s batted .300 or better in every season of his 15-year major league career except for his first, which consisted of 27 AB, and 2009, a season where he had just short of 400 AB due to injury, which surely took a toll on how he performed offensively.

And yet, the man was still able to hit .295 that year. Not to mention that in 10 of his 15 years, he’s driven in over 100 RBI.

Vlad will be much cheaper than many options out there, like Konerko or Adam Dunn, and serve the need of a big, intimidating right-handed bat to slot between Nick Markakis and Luke Scott.

Obviously, Buck Showalter would want to DH Vlad, as his outfield playing days are behind him and the O’s already have an awesome defensive right fielder in Markakis, which would push Luke Scott onto the field.

Or, an even crazier idea, Showalter could try Vlad at first. With Vlad’s knee problems, it probably wouldn’t work out well, but hey, it’s a thought, right?

Luke Scott

This is one of the more obvious ideas, putting Luke Scott at first for the 2011 season and seeing how he fares. Many people believe he can’t play there, but who really knows what Scott is able to do defensively until given a legitimate shot?

Showalter could call up Scott today and tell him to either get with one of the Orioles’ new coaches during the offseason, or hire a personal infield coach himself to work with him at the position and get him ready for spring training.

I wouldn’t expect Scott to become a Gold Glover, but I personally feel that given a chance, he could prove to be a very competent first baseman, at least until a better option rolls along.

Scott certainly has the bat for the position as well, if he can maintain what he was doing from last May on and erase the “streaky” label from himself completely. He wouldn’t be a top-hitting first baseman, but he would certainly do the job offensively, being a very nice complimentary piece if given the right people hitting in front of him.

Putting Luke Scott at first would open up the DH slot, which Vlad could fill. That would give the Orioles a 3-4-5 spot of Markakis, Guerrero and Scott, a line that could drive in a lot of runs if leadoff man Brian Roberts stays healthy.

Adam LaRoche

LaRoche is a guy who many people tend to forget about. Since 2005, he has hit at least 20 home runs and driven in at least 78 RBI every season, last year putting up a line of .261/25/100, all while hitting in spacious Chase Field in Arzone for a Diamondbacks team that had trouble doing pretty much everything offensively.

Now, LaRoche is obviously not the big cleanup hitter the O’s so desperately need, but he’d be a very, very good complementary bat if the O’s can get their big hitter, or at the very least, provide more pop and spark for a lineup lacking it.

He also has a solid glove, sporting a career .995 fielding percentage. LaRoche is a better player than many people realize, and he’d be pretty cheap.

If the Orioles could sign both Vlad Guerrero and Adam LaRoche, they could then move Luke Scott back into left field and have a offensive lineup that would be very much like the 2008 Orioles, with solid hitters up and down and the veterans helping the young guys get better pitches to hit.

Substitute the signing of LaRoche with, maybe, Carlos Pena, and there is yet another option, albeit one not as appealing. But these three free agents would all be cheaper, one-year solutions that would turn out productivity pretty close to what the top guys out there would.

I understand that playing Scott in left over Felix Pie and/or Nolan Reimold may not be very appealing, with the upside of both of the younger players, but these are just options I’m throwing around.

More than likely, the O’s won’t sign any of the three players I’ve mentioned in this article, but it’s always fun to throw fantasy lineups together and think about the options and possibilities. One thing is for sure, though: The Orioles need to do something with their offense before the 2011 season.

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Baltimore Orioles Need To Buy Konerko’s Bat This Offseason

Grow the arms, buy the bats.

That’s what Andy MacPhail has preached since taking over as the Baltimore Orioles’ President of Baseball Operations midway through the 2007 season.

The Orioles have traded away many veterans over the past few years to acquire plenty of young pitching, and drafted young arms as well.

Now it’s time to live up to your trademark quote, Andy. Now it’s time to buy the bats.

The Orioles are in dire need of thump in the middle of their lineup, having only had two players—Luke Scott and Ty Wigginton—reach the 20-homer mark during the 2010 season. Wigginton is due to become a free agent at the end of the postseason.

So, where should Andy turn to get the power the Orioles so sorely need? Paul Konerko.

I see Konerko as the most perfect fit of any of the available options for the Orioles to get a power bat this offseason.

Coming off one of the best years of his career, Konerko won’t be expected to reproduce the same numbers he put up this past season (.312 BA, 39 HR, 111 RBI), seeing as how he will turn 35 almost a full month before the 2011 season begins.

But there are still many reasons why he is a perfect fit in an Orioles uniform, starting with the fact that he is a right-handed slugging first baseman.

At this point, nothing would be more useful to the Orioles’ offense than to have a big righty to stick between the left-handed bats of Nick Markakis and Scott. With Scott being the Orioles biggest long ball threat in 2010, and Markakis in need of an established, feared hitter behind him, it only makes sense to do everything the Orioles’ management can do to make their offensive upgrade a right-handed one, not to mention how hitter-friendly left field in Camden Yards is to right-handed sluggers.

And not only would they be checking the power bat off of their to-do list, they’d also be getting the full-time first baseman they need, and a decent one at that.

In addition to providing on the field, Konerko would presumably do wonders in the Orioles’ clubhouse.

Konerko has always been viewed as a great clubhouse guy and a leader, and now that the young Orioles have become a family over the last year, Konerko would only strengthen that mold while bringing the exact attitude manager Buck Showalter presents of himself and expects of his players: a gamer.

Konerko is a selfless player who puts the needs of the team before the needs of himself, and isn’t happy with the way the day turned out unless his teams wins.

Given all that I’ve said, understand this: I’m not arguing that Konerko is the long-term answer at first base for the Baltimore Orioles. That would be absurd.

What I am arguing, though, is that of all the available options for them, he fits the mold perfectly at this time. Adam Dunn and Carlos Pena are both left-handed hitters who don’t hit for as high an average as Konerko, and Derrek Lee is coming off a down year, not to mention he’s older than Konerko.

Moreover, since Konerko is going to be a free agent this offseason, the O’s wouldn’t be giving up prospects to get his team to trade him. He fits in with MacPhail’s philosophy of buying the big bats.

For those O’s fans out there who are hoping for a trade for Adrian Gonzalez, or a trade for someone of the same caliber, realize that it isn’t going to happen, and it wouldn’t be smart due to the amount the Orioles would need to give up to acquire a player of that magnitude.

Konerko was interested in coming to Baltimore prior to the 2005 season, when he decided to return to the Chicago White Sox for a larger contract. This time around, the Orioles can’t let that happen.

Sign him for two or three years, outbidding all of his other suitors, with the idea being that he holds down the fort and serves the purpose of the Orioles’ first baseman/clean-up hitter until the Orioles can either grow a younger full-time first baseman or go younger with a great option in the free agent/trade market in two to three years.

This signing wouldn’t be anything like MacPhail’s gambles in the past, those being the likes of Garrett Atkins and Rich Hill. No, Konerko is a very proven veteran player and even though he will be 35 before next season, he is sure to produce for at least a few more seasons.

This is a signing that the Orioles need to make, to prove that the ownership has the young players’ and Showalter’s backs, as well as showing the rest of the AL East that they are for real.

Konerko would bring a winning attitude to a young Orioles team that has no idea what that mentality is about, and help balance a lineup in serious need of a big power bat, which is an addition from which every Orioles hitter is sure to benefit.

In addition, Konerko would give the young pitching staff the confidence that the team can supply them with the necessary run support to win a game in which they pitched well in, or let them know that they can make a mistake once in a while because the offense will be there to back them up.

Don’t let this one get away, Andy.

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And The Winner Is…

The San Francisco Giants have won the 2010 World Series, beating the Texas Rangers 3-1 tonight, and taking the series 4 games to 1 overall.

It’s quite an accomplishment for both teams to have made it so far, and even more so for the Giants to have won it all. Many people, including myself, have called the Giants a group of misfits. Well, they’re a group of misfits that all fit together.

They won with great pitching and team work. They were able to shut down the potent offense of the Rangers and win with relatively low scores during the series.

It was the first World Series win for the Giants since their move to San Francisco. In other words, the last time the Giants franchise won a World Series, was when they were the New York Giants.

Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants, winners of the 2010 Major League Baseball World Series.

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Giants Have Commanding 3-1 World Series Lead

With their win last night, the San Francisco Giants have taken a 3-1 series lead on the Texas Rangers.

Rallying back from a two game deficit and ultimately winning three straight games is going to be a nightmare of a task for the Rangers, who have Cliff Lee going against Tim Lincecum in tonight’s Game Five at Arlington, Texas. Few teams have done it, and the Giants are steam rolling over pretty much anything that comes their way at this point. It’s going to take a real momentum killer to give the Rangers a shot.

For each team, it’s just incredibly impressive that they made it this far, despite the outcome of this World Series. The Rangers started the season with no owner, and the Giants had a terrible offense on paper until Aubrey Huff and Buster Posey stepped up, and management made trades for Cody Ross, Jose Guillen (who is not on the World Series roster due to possible association with trying to get PED’s), and acquired Pat Burrell to balance out their lineup and add a bit more pop.

Cliff Lee can’t turn in the same performance tonight that the did in Game One. If that happens, the series is over. Though, I would expect him to bounce back and make it quite the pitchers duel with The Freak.

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World Series Analysis

The Texas Rangers make their first ever World Series appearance tomorrow, Wednesday, against the San Francisco Giants at 7:30 pm eastern time on Fox. Let’s take a look at the matchup.

Key Players:

TEX: Vladimir Guerrero

SFO: Matt Cain

Both of these teams have great pitching, with the Giants having the edge. It will be a very interesting thing to see one of the best pitching teams in San Fran trying to silence one of the best offenses, the Rangers. I think that’s what the series is going to come down to; the winning team will be the one with their strongest piece of their team outperforming the other team’s strongest asset, as opposed to a more all around team effort. Obviously, team work is going to be the thing to push the better team to overall victory, but more of the series than any other this postseason will be dependent on one team’s offense versus the other team’s pitching.

If the Rangers want to take this series, Vladimir Guerrero is going to need to step up his game from his past performance during this postseason. He hasn’t been the same run producer for the Rangers so far this postseason that he had been during the regular season. And on top of that, he’s going to be manning the huge right field of AT&T Park on his bad knees, for at least Game One of the series, since there is no DH rule in the National League. The Rangers are going to need to pray that Vladdy can field at least acceptably field for the time that they’re away from home. Even still, his offensive production is going to be more necessary for him, and the Rangers, against the great pitching staff of the Giants.

Matt Cain is a great pitcher who has a lot of tough luck all of the time during his career. He’s going to be relied on to turn in a great performance every time he gets the ball, as well as the Giants needing to give him some run support. No one should worry about how Matt Cain will pitch, as he’s almost always effective and is sure to give his team a chance to win, but that’s a necessity for the Giants to get out of their number two starter if they’re going to finish the year as the best team in baseball.

San Francisco Giants win in six.

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Faceoff: Texas Rangers, NFL Player Safety, and the Miami Heat’s Chances

Faceoff’s are a new series where both writers, Seth & Alex, talk about a few of the current issues in sports.

1. What are your thoughts on the ALCS so far? Will the Rangers be able to close it out or will the Yankees come back in hopes of back-to-back championships?

Alex: Rangers need to win in Game Six so that they can save Cliff Lee to open the World Series with (assuming they get that far). That makes tonight’s game so much more important than a typical Game Six. I still think the Rangers will hold on and win it, whether it be in game six or game seven.

Seth: The Rangers have been playing their best baseball when it counts: October. Cliff Lee has been pitching phenomenally and the bats have been at work also. But this upcoming game six in Arlington will be a pivotal one for Texas. They will want to close it out eliminating any possibility to play a game seven. And I do think the Rangers will indeed win tonight, but if they don’t…then the Rangers are in bad shape even if they win the game seven, because they won’t get Cliff Lee to pitch game one of the World Series. Of course they won’t care, as long as they make it to there. I’m sure they’ll take their chances with whoever’s on the mound for them.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Brett Favre’s Old Trick (No, not what you’re thinking…)

Brett Favre has questioned whether he will suit up this weekend.

Yeah…right…

He even had the audacity to suggest sitting out two weeks?!?

Now, I’m just shocked…

Oh, wait? What? Oh you sly dog, Brett, you…

I see what you’re doing now…

This is the classic case of directing attention away from what has been a-buzz for the past week or so in the NFL – whether Brett Favre really did some sexting. He allegedly sent naked photos of his genitals and seductive voicemails to a Jets employee, when he was with the team in 2008. That employee was Jenn Sterger, who happens to be a former Playboy model before she became a sideline reporter for New York.

Favre is hoping that if he says a few things to the media about his tendonitis and if he puts his game day status in question for Sunday, which means his Iron Man record of 289 straight starts would be in jeopardy, then everyone will forget about this whole incident.

Not so quick, my friend…

This whole ordeal has certainly been a distraction to the Minnesota Vikings, even Favre admits it. Before Monday night’s game against the Vikings, he reportedly had a tearful apology to the team, in which he said that he was prepared to play “lights-out” that night (they lost).

You can’t blame the media for making this out to be a big deal though. One of the NFL’s golden boys for the past 15 years was caught doing something wrong. Of course that becomes one of the leading stories.

It was a valiant effort on Favre’s part though, trying to get this thing to blow over. I’ll give him that. But he’ll be out there playing come Sunday, in a matchup with the Cowboys that is now being termed as the “Panic Bowl”. When two NFC favorites go 1-3 through the first five weeks, people will start jumping ship.

If anyone was the real winner of these allegations-then it was Ben Roethlisberger. Yes, you read that correctly. Ol’ Big Ben. If it wasn’t for Favre making the news so much this week, reporters would have inevitably pitted Roethlisberger as the week’s big story. He’s fresh coming off of a four game suspension. Everyone would be asking him things like “Did you really rape her” or “Are you sorry?” Instead, all of the focus has been on Favre.

Big Ben should send Favre a gift or something. Whatever NFL quarterbacks would send each other as a token of appreciation. Possibly a picture of his genitalia?!?!

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